It's the talk of the town - the City of Ballarat's new paid car park system begins on February 1.
People will have seen the new council cars with licence plate scanners attached rolling around the streets, and there's plenty of rumours floating around.
New parking meters are being installed to prepare for the new regime - in Zone 1, which covers most of the CBD, the first hour of parking is free, and every hour after that is $3, with no hourly limit.
Drivers will still need to keep an eye out, as time-restricted parks will be still around in Zone 2, which covers much of the inner-city.
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There's free parking under construction near Eastern Oval, and the state government has promised 1000 new free car parks within the city.
The Courier sent council a bunch of questions from readers to clarify what's happening.
Have meters been installed yet across Zone 1, and do they have options for coins, cash, and card?
New meters are being rolled out across Zone 1 currently and they have options for coins, cash and/or card. They are not currently operational, which is clearly indicated on them.
When will the app become available?
The app is currently available to be downloaded from app stores by searching for CellOPark but it will not go live until Smarter Parking starts to ensure a consistent rollout across the CBD.
Will the meters all be activated on the same day?
Our commitment is to turn on the meters in February, we hope to do this all at once but will turn them on as they are able.
What options are there for people who are unable to download the app?
There will still be meters on the street to enable people to choose to pay with card, cash and app
Will there be any way to park in the CBD without an app?
Yes, there will be meters on the street that have cash and/or card options
What functions does the app have? Will people who move their cars have to enter in a new location?
The motorist simply presses start on the app when they park and stop when they leave regardless of where they park within the on-street paid parking zone.
The Smarter Parking site notes 'you can top up at any meter' - how does this work?
All you have to do is enter your car registration number at any on-street meter and you will be able to top up your time using coins, and/or card.
How does moving a car work once the first free hour is up? If I'm parked in a two-hour zone at 9am, then have to move my car before 11am to a different zone until before 1pm, would I have to re-enter details on the app?
Within Zone 1 there are NO time restrictions. You can stay as long as you like and simply pay for the time you are there. You can move around within Zone 1 and not have to restart your time. Remember you only get your 1 hour free for the first time you park.
I'm parked in Zone 2 performing emergency open heart surgery when time runs out for my three-hour car park. Is there a level of leniency for people who are unable to move their cars for serious reasons?
As with the current system, Zone 2 provides for 1, 2, 3, 4hr and all day parking. It is up to the driver to choose the most appropriate park however, an appeals process is available to those who wish to appeal a parking infringement, this remains unchanged.
Are there any different charges for concession card holders or pensioners?
No - this is unchanged
How do infringement notices work?
As per current system
Will there be staff on-foot putting paper tickets on cars?
Yes, this will still be the predominant method for infringements as is current practice.
Will parking tickets arrive in the mail?
In some circumstances, infringements are posted out. This happens for a variety of reasons and is part of the current parking process.
How will people know they've been fined?
As per the current process, by either a ticket on the windscreen, a ticket handed to the driver or it posted to the registered vehicles address.
Will there be alerts in the app if time is running out?
This is an option via the CellOPark app
Will people have to pay extra for those alerts?
Yes, they will have to pay for the premium app which is $1.99 a month.
Is the app compatible with other councils? I have PayStay for the City of Yarra, for example, is the app different or will Ballarat begin to show up as well?
No, the app is a CellOPark app, not a PayStay app. For example, CellOPark is in Warrnambool so can be used there also.
How much is it to park on the street for a day in the CBD?
If you stay on street from 9 - 5:30 it will cost a total of $22.50, however you can choose to park at on off-street car park for $6.50 per day.
How much are infringement notices?
Infringement notices will remain at the current rate and vary depending on the type of infringement. The standard infringement (not paying for parking) is $76.
If I do need to move my car, does it need to be to a different street entirely in Zone 1?
You can move anywhere within Zone 1 whilst you have valid paid parking. You no longer need to move your car in zone 1 as there are NO time restrictions.
Can I move my car to a different block on the same street in Zone 1 and still be covered if it's within the time limit?
Would I be fined in Zone 2 if I move my car over the road?
As long as you leave the area, you are able to park across the road when you come back.
How far away do I have to move my car to avoid fines?
As long as you leave the area, you are able to come back to the same area later on.
How do the number plate scanning vehicles work?
Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) vehicles scan, mark and photograph a vehicles location, not dissimilar to the chalk and walk method currently used but with more reliable and efficient technology.
Do the number plate scanning vehicles only work on cars parked at 90 degree angles?
NO, it works on all angles
Do the number plate scanning vehicles work on cars parked bumper-to-bumper (as some people tend to do)?
YES and it is illegal to park closer than 1meter to another vehicle.
Do the number plate scanning vehicles issue fines, or do they alert staff on-foot about potential infringements?
They alert the driver and passenger who will either get out and perform their duties or in some cases it can be posted.
Will I get infringement notices in the mail by surprise?
If you park illegally, you should assume you will receive a ticket, if not on the day then in the post.
How many infringement notices can I receive in one day?
1 per offence
How many days can I receive infringement notices in a row?
Everyday you commit an offence.
How will officers know when I arrived in a car park?
Officers as per normal will be walking the streets and in the LPR vehicles and will identify vehicles who have not registered and paid for their parking in Zone 1 and who have overstayed in Zone 2 or who have committed any other parking offences.
I've been parked for two hours, a LPR car's gone past, I've left and come back to the same spot - how will the LPR car know that I've moved? In Zone 2, does it come down to visually double checking chalk marks?
The LPR vehicles have a proven inbuilt technology that means there won't need to be physical chalking.
Have underground sensors been installed in town?
Does the sign that reads 'P - METER 9-5' mean paid all-day parking?
Are there plans for Park and Ride in the city - ie shuttles from the Creswick Road car park into town?
This was identified as something to explore as part of the consultation but as yet this has not been further developed.
Let's use an example! Webster Street is out of Zone 1- I'm parked on Webster Street in the two hour zone in front of the Courier from 9am. At 10.55am, I diligently move my car to a three hour zone a couple of blocks away, still on Webster Street, then about 1.45pm, I move my car to a different three hour zone on the other side of Webster Street before I head home at 5pm. Have I done anything wrong?
No, you have left each area before reparking to do this.
A different example! I am parked on Webster Street in a two hour zone from 9am, then I have to drive to a council photo shoot at 10am. I return at 11am and park in the exact same place, in the exact same spot, for another two hours, when I have to drive to another job. Would I be fined if an inspector on-foot chalked my car at 9.45am and returned to see me apparently still parked in the same spot at 11.45am - even though I've moved since?
You left the area therefore you are legally able to park back in that spot.
A third example! My business is in the CBD and I have to drive to work every day. I managed to find a two hour car park quite close, and after cheering my success, I open the app. How do I not get fined across the day? How many times would I have to move my car or pay through the app for a 9-5 day?
There are NO on-street paid 2hr spots, they are all unrestricted time, if you are working all day, you pay for that when you arrive. If you need to top up throughout the day, you can at any meter or through the app.
What's next for the Smarter Parking plan once the meters are installed?
The Smarter Parking Plan is an iterative plan designed to adapt to the changing CBD and surrounds. Initially the focus will be on education of the new process. It also gives us time to look at other modes of transport, eg buses.
Will there be an expansion of Zone 1 or 2?
As the city grows, then yes there may be changes but this will be determined on evidence based assessments.
When will the system be reviewed?
It will constantly be reviewed as was the commitment to Council and the Community.
Are there plans to change the map - ie moving zones?
How much is council spending on this plan, including infrastructure, marketing and comms, and new vehicles?
This is detailed in the 2019/20 budget
Are there any new jobs?
No new jobs and more importantly no job losses
Is this plan expected to increase revenue for the city?
Given this is a significant change to how parking works, we don't know yet. It is ultimately determined by the compliance rate.
Are there plans for more new free car parks in the city?
Eastern Oval is currently under construction and will be free. Also we are still waiting to see how the State Govt will roll out their commitment to 1000 free CBD carparks.
Are there plans for more new paid car parks in the city?
We are not aware of any new off street paid car parks.
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